Optimism and Frequency Biases

Overestimating the frequency of something because we’ve seen it recently or memorably.

Humans have a number of cognitive biases that can lead us to distort reality and make bad decisions. One of these is called the Optimism Bias. It is the mistaken belief that we are less likely to experience a negative event than someone else. Games can emphasize this bias by overegagerating other people's loses. Because we see other people losing when we aren't, we may get the mistaken impression that we are more skilled or lucky than other people. If we feel like we are exceptionally skilled at a game, we will keep playing.

Another cognitive bias is towards more recent or memorable information. This is the mistaken belief that events that happened in your recent memory are more likely to occur again in the near future. We overestimate the frequency of something happening because it is memorable to us. When a game shows that other players just got a rare item, it gives us the impression that this could happen to us soon, even though the odds haven't changed.

The Clustering Illusion is another tendency for people to erroneously overestimate the significance of short winning streaks and see phantom patterns in random data where there aren't any. A game that proclaims to give random rewards could in fact secretly have a tendency to give rewards in streaks to emphasize this cognitive bias.


Star Trek Fleet Command Star Trek Fleet Command
"The game shows arbitrary stats for kills, hit ratios, etc. The most arbitrary stats are displayed in common areas which show an unrealistic painting of the players true abilities."

Hearthstone Hearthstone
"Only wins are counted to statistics"

RAID: Shadow Legends RAID: Shadow Legends
"Shows when others open legendaries but not when they fail to open them"

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"They removed your losses about a year ago. You can redeem friend losses in your faction."

Auto Chess Auto Chess
"tells you a message when you get first out of 8th place that makes you feel good"

Game Dev Story Game Dev Story
"it does sad sound effects when you lose and happy sound effects when you win"

Brawl Stars Brawl Stars
"It does not hide loses and shows friends' win/losses only if you're spectating."

Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes
"When your guildmates upgrade a character, it appears in the in-game chat."